Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, He was named Jesus, the name given Him by the angel even before He was conceived. (Luke 2:21 NLT)
Today my family celebrates the birth of my wife, Traci. It wasn't that long ago that we were celebrating the birth of Jesus. Many people "let down" from their Christmas celebration during this time. Some use up their vacation time through the end of the year. Students enjoy a "break" from school through the end of the year and the beginning of the next. Christmas gifts get "enjoyed" and decorations often come down. The weeks following Christmas seem to be about "packing up" those memories and moving on.
Jesus' parents, however, lived a different several weeks after Christmas. Celebrating the birth of their son only began that night in the stable when the shepherds interrupted any hope of sleep. No, that night would only be the start. This new child would change their lives for a long, long time.
Eight days after his birth, Jesus would be named at his circumcision ceremony. He would be declared an Israelite, one of God's chosen people, and would bear that mark for the rest of his life.
Mary and Joseph had just traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census - a trip that brought them 60 miles as the crow flies, probably double that through the mountains...on foot. Now they had other provisions of the law to fulfill. The circumcision could have taken place right there in Bethlehem, but by the end of the month they would be travelling again.
After waiting thirty-three days, she will be purified from the bleeding of childbirth. During this time of purification, she must not touch anything that is set apart as holy. And she must not enter the sanctuary until her time of purification is over. (Leviticus 12:4 NLT)
"When the time of purification is completed for either a son or a daughter, the woman must bring a one-year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or turtledove for a purification offering. She must bring her offerings to the priest at the entrance of the Tabernacle. The priest will then present them to the LORD to purify her. Then she will be ceremonially clean again after her bleeding at childbirth. These are the instructions for a woman after the birth of a son or a daughter. "If a woman cannot afford to bring a lamb, she must bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons. One will be for the burnt offering and the other for the purification offering. The priest will sacrifice them to purify her, and she will be ceremonially clean." (Leviticus 12:6-8 NLT)
"The firstborn of every mother, whether human or animal, that is offered to the LORD will be yours. But you must always redeem your firstborn sons and the firstborn of ceremonially unclean animals. Redeem them when they are one month old. (Numbers 18:15-16 NLT)
Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so His parents took Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. The law of the Lord says, "If a woman's first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the LORD." So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—"either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons." (Luke 2:22-24 NLT)
All too often, we move past Christmas quickly and move on with "normal life," but for Mary and Joseph this simply wouldn't be the case. After the purification and dedication ceremony in Jerusalem, they moved back to Bethlehem until the wise men came to visit. This is quite a bit of travelling for a family who is unable to afford a lamb for the purification ceremony. But, they had each other...and the promise of God. It wasn't a problem that their lives were turned upside down. They were together...with God.